LCS Hockey: Born Again
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July 18, 2019
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Opening Night

The 2008-09 NHL season kicked off in earnest Thursday night, with the filthy Detroit Red Wings raising their Stanley Cup banner before the Motor City’s unwashed masses. The league certainly did what it could to make it a happy homecoming, scheduling the Toronto Maple Leafs as the opening-night patsy. The Little Sisters of the Poor were busy.

Ah, but those lowly Leafs did us all proud on this night. Ron Wilson’s boys watched the Wings raise the Stanley Cup banner, and then they went out and whipped the chumps on Joe Louis ice. Toronto got goals from Pavel Kubina, Dominic Moore, and rookie Nikolai Kulemin to down the filthy Wings, 3-2.

And “(Sunshine) Detroit!” rang from the heavens.

After the game, Marian Hossa announced he’d be leaving the Red Wings to join the Maple Leafs, citing his increased chances of winning a Stanley Cup. Tough break, Wings fans.

In case anyone forgot over the summer, Chris Osgood reminded everyone just how much he sucks, literally handing the Maple Leafs the first goal of the season.

Toronto was on the power play in the last minute of the opening frame when Osgood decided to sweep he puck away from a scrum at the side of his cage. Osgood being Osgood, he didn’t push the puck behind the net, electing instead to pull it right into the slot. Kubina was pinching on the play and snapped Osgood’s gift into the twine for the 1-0 lead.

Seriously, at what point in Osgood’s infuriatingly successful 15-year career did he learn to one-hand the puck in front of his own net on the penalty kill? Because that’s genius. Well done, sir. Osgood is so bad, he’s terrible.

Toronto made it 2-0 at 15:04 of the second. Alex Steen did some nice work out of the corner to free the puck to Jonas Frogren at the right point. Frogren’s shot clipped a Detroit defender on the way to the net and rattled around in front. Moore eventually found the biscuit and lifted it over a prone Osgood to stun the Detroit faithful. The once raucous arena was as quiet as a library… if, you know, there were any libraries in Detroit. Well, I think they used to have one, but then they lost the book.

The two-goal lead didn’t last long. Tomas Holmstrom got the Wings on the board 1:24 later, knocking down a Brad Stuart point shot and backhanding the puck between his own legs past Vesa Toskala. .

Even though they were down 2-1 entering the third, the filthy Wings seemed poised to rally. After all, they had the momentum, they had the sellout crowd, and they had the Stanley Cup. Fortunately for me, they also had Dan Cleary.

Good ol’ Dan coughed up the puck in the neutral zone, floating a cross-ice pass right to a streaking Kulemin. The 22-year-old Magnitogorsk native blew behind the defense and turned Osgood out. Backhand, forehand, bang. I’m going to name my first born Kulemin. And whatever we find in little Kulemin’s diaper, we’ll call Osgood.

Holmstrom pulled the Wings to within 3-2 with a power-play tally at 9:20 of the third. He once again dominated the front of the cage, fighting for space and wrapping home a rebound.

Detroit pushed for the tying goal but couldn’t get anything else behind Toskala, who stopped 35. And, yes, there was much rejoicing.

Keep in mind, the Maple Leafs are awful. They’ve basically said they want to tank it the next few years to stockpile draft picks. Yet the Wings lost to them. On home ice. On the night they raised the banner.

Life is good.

Before the game, the filthy Wings had some sort of ceremony where they had a bunch of old dudes come back and help raise the Stanley Cup banner. I saw Gordie Howe and Igor Larionov. And I’m assuming Steve Yzerman was there. I’m not sure, though, because that’s right around the time I put my foot through my TV machine.

(Sunshine) Detroit.

Nice to see Kirk Maltby is still a (sunshining) (sunshine)-smoker. In case you missed it, Maltby made a real nice play to belt Jason Blake away from the cage, sending the diminutive winger flying before he could poke home a rebound.

Of course, once the whistle blew, Detroit’s Duchess of Douche couldn’t let well enough alone. Instead of just skating to the bench, Maltby took a stride towards Blake and gave him a real manly shove in way of intimidation.

Ooh, you’re so tough, Kirk. Way to pick on the 5’9” cancer survivor. Maltby’s real brave when the guy he’s shoving is wee tiny. And even then, he keeps his gloves glued on and his visor tight.

The only thing better than splintering Maltby’s weasel skull with my bare hands would be beating him into a bloody pulp with the lifeless corpse of Marian Hossa.

Speaking of Benedict Arnold, he spent most of the night skating with Pavel Datsyuk and Holmstrom, registering an assist on Holmstrom’s power-play goal. But wait, let me check on something… yeah, just as I thought. Hossa’s still a creep. Screw Hossa in the ear.

Toronto rookie Luke Schenn looked solid in 17:20 of ice time, skating a regular shift with Tomas Kaberle. But unless you’re in a keeper league, you fantasy poolsters shouldn’t worry about him. Not only will the Leafs likely be brutal this season, Kaberle and Kubina are going to devour all the premier power-play minutes.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Def Leppard, who played the NHL’s big kickoff celebration. Some broad named Carrie Milbank introduced them as, and I quote, “One of the greatest bands in the history of rock and roll.”

Um, yeah. They’re not even one of the best bands named after a hearing-impaired animal.

When the lead singer came on stage, my first thought was, “Wow, Ozzy Osbourne has really let himself go.” Dude, Def Leppard sucked 20 years ago. And they didn’t age well.

Who were the people in the crowd actually cheering this shameful display? If you’re at a Def Leppard concert, and you’re not drugged and duct taped to a chair, you seriously need to reevaluate the choices you’ve made in life.

At one point, Darren McCarty rode a motorcycle on stage with the Stanley Cup because, you know, McCarty is cool. So the lead singer picks up the Cup, no doubt bursting the seams on his truss, and walks it to the side of the stage, where he proceeds to stand the Cup upside down.

That’s right, he put the Cup down bowl first. Yes, sir, Def Leppard sure are hockey fans. I guess Hall and Oates were booked.

Once I calmed down from the excitement of Def Leppard, I managed to catch most of Vancouver’s 6-0 destruction of Calgary. Roberto Luongo stopped 25 for the shutout, and Alex Burrows led the way with a pair of goals.

Lemme tell ya, the Canucks looked awesome. Burrows and Ryan Kesler were all over the place, and Mattias Ohlund was a beast, dishing out five hits to go along with a goal, an assist, and a plus-3.

And some dude named Rick Rypien scored a real swank shorthanded goal, busting around the Calgary defense and piping a wrister over Miikka Kiprusoff’s glove. Who in the blue hell is Rick Rypien?

Maybe it was the emotion of the Luc Bourdon tribute, but the Canucks were flying. They’re wicked fast. If they keep skating like that, offense won’t be a problem.

I was more impressed, though, with their toughness. Once the score got out of hand, the Flames tried to make things chippy, and the Canucks met them hit for hit. Adding Shane O’Brien was brilliant. Vancouver just seems to have a whole new attitude.

Towards the end of the game, Dion Phaneuf lit Daniel Sedin with a gorgeous open-ice hip check. Steve Bernier wasted no time in dropping the gloves. A few minutes before that, Daymond Langkow took a swipe at Luongo, and Jannik Hansen came in throwing. It was team toughness at its finest.

I know I picked Vancouver to miss the playoffs, and it seems everyone is down on them this year, but I tell you what… I liked what I saw. I liked it a lot. Keep an eye on those Canucks.

LCS Hockey: Born Again
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